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The Last Kind Word (Mac Mckenzie) by David Housewright
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250009609
Date: 04 June 2013 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Millionaire PI Rushmore McKenzie infiltrates the Iron Range Bandits in order to learn who is selling stolen AK 47s that the ATF lost during Operation Fast and Furious.

Masquerading as the notorious fugitive Nick Dyson, McKenzie befriends a family of Northern Minnesota misfits who are down on their luck because of the economic downturn that has closed many factories. Calling themselves the Iron Range Bandits, the family robs local businesses. McKenzie convinces them to rob a remote vault where armored trucks convey and deposit the money they've collected on their routes. Meanwhile, having fallen in love with the family, he harbors second thoughts about betraying them to the ATF.

A big red heart should be drawn on the cover of David Housewright's excellent novel, The Last Kind Word (following Highway 61 and Curse of the Jade Lily). This action-packed thriller has a lot of heart. I daresay I enjoyed this Rushmore McKenzie novel more than any other in the series because it is very emotional. I nearly cried several times because of the hardships that several of the characters revealed while explaining why they were thieves. Having once been a victim of a Reduction in Force, I could understand how they felt; fortunately, I had a good support system (i.e., parents). However, in the case of the Iron Range Bandits, when most everyone in your family has been harmed by the economic downturn, there is no longer a support system. What do you do?

At one point, I had to toss the book aside and walk away. I was filled with anger. While innocent employees working in backwoods plants lose their jobs, CEOs and other high-ranking officials walk away with millions of dollars in bonuses. Why don't they go to prison? Because they have friends who are politicians. The Iron Range Bandits are victims of a corrupt political system that is getting more evil each day. To make matters worse, local mobsters and crooked police officers want a piece of the family's action. There is also a traitor living among them.

Also, no one can keep a secret. It is hilarious that practically everyone in the small town of Ely, Minnesota, near the Canadian border, knows about the family's plan to rob armored trucks. Another hilarious aspect is the family members squabbling among themselves, calling each other vulgar names. One of the girls, Claire de Lune (real name is Sandra Dawson) works as a stripper. Need I say more?

This novel, to a great extent, reveals the kind nature of our hero, Rushmore McKenzie. The beautiful women who surround him are always telling him how wonderful he is. I have to agree with them. He risks his life to protect the Iron Range Bandits. Also, one of the women, Josie Skarda, falls in love with McKenzie. Though he is tempted to make love to her, he remains forever faithful to his girlfriend, Nina Truhler, who owns and operates a bar, Rickie's Jazz Joint.

I believe that McKenzie sympathizes with the plight of the Iron Range Bandits. As I wrote earlier, he falls in love with them. I couldn't help but also fall in love with them. I contribute this to the author's great writing skills. He has a gift for bringing his unique characters to life.

Not as violent as his previous novels, David Housewright's The Last Kind Word is still highly recommended for fans of crime drama. With its ample amounts of hilarity, romance, and warmheartedness, it might almost be considered a cozy. However, the finale's violent shootout, though it is short-lived, disqualifies it as one.

Mystery fans not familiar with Housewright's Rushmore McKenzie novels may want to read this one. It focuses primarily on McKenzie's relationship with the Iron Range Bandits; pre-established characters, such as his girlfriend Nina, have minor roles. I will most definitely be reading the next novel in this series and hope that it will also reveal more of McKenzie's kind side. That is my last word.

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